Monday, June 18, 2012

From Eternity to Here- Sean Carroll

From Eternity to Here-Sean Carroll

the facts
satisfaction: side/up (☞/☝)
pages: 375
gender: M
nationality: UK
year: 2010

This a popular-level book on cosmology and the arrow of time.

I was not supposed to pass physics. I was the kid who failed every quiz (except two) and I developed a sort of learned helplessness that manifested most poignantly when I actually misused a protractor during the refraction of light through various materials section. It certainly didn’t help that the honors physics class I was in was primarily theoretical with very little hands on experimentation-we mainly looked at numbers, formulas, and word problems about cows falling off cliffs which was and will always be like a foreign language to me. I only passed due to the pity of my teacher and the special, just for our class, creative project that allowed me to scrape by every marking period. (Thank you by the way Mr.G, even if you did it to not have me in your class another year.)

So the fact that I actually enjoyed and somewhat understood this book is astonishing especially considering that I am probably not the target audience. Let’s be frank, I thought this would a bit more philosophical when a friend recommended it to me as a new idea of time. I only glanced at the book jacket but it seemed full of philosophical possibilities. A chapter in, I realized that my friend was probably playing a joke on me but I was already hooked and I ploughed on through.

By focusing on entropy, Carroll explores the complex issue of time specifically the arrow of time. He talks about the precise implications of our very fixed arrow of time, for instance on time travel or black holes. His explanations are lucid and so the armchair physicist, the physics failure, and the physics genius alike would be able to understand the nuances of Carroll’s apparently well developed theory. Folks like me would probably require another reread before being able to voice any of the theory in public (which explains the heavy autobiographical slant of this review) but even a casual read gives you beyond a gist of the idea. I don't know if this is radical or ground-breaking but it did the job for me.

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